CHICAGO — Thousands of protesters marched in Sunday’s Drag March for Change and were encouraged by Black queer activists to continue taking steps to dismantle anti-Black racism within the community.
“It’s on everyone to keep doing the work and keep taking these steps after we get home,” organizer Joe Lewis, who performs in drag as Jo Mama, told the sea of protesters.
The Black drag queens, kings and other queer activists who organized the event said they were overwhelmed by the protest’s massive turnout — but they said it wasn’t enough and people need to do more to actively dismantle racism within the community.
“We’re not here to entertain you,” Lewis said. “We’re here to make you listen, learn and make you open your purse.”
Miss Toto, a drag queen who said she recently moved from Miami to Chicago “for the Black drag here,” encouraged people who would traditionally celebrate LGBTQ Pride month in June to dedicate their efforts towards Black causes.
“Pride is canceled unless it’s raising money for Black people and the movement,” Miss Toto said.
She encouraged allies to “show up to the Black shows” and “do something to expand your horizon and knowledge … of Black history.”
Here are five ways people can show up for Black LGBTQ people this Pride month:
June 17: “Black Girl Magic” Drag Show
This digital installment of The Vixen’s “Black Girl Magic” drag show will feature more than 30 Black drag performers from across the city and country, including stars of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
Fans can stream the show online at 8 p.m. Wednesday on The Vixen’s Twitch channel, and viewers can tip performers through apps like Venmo.
June 18: “Raise Your Voice” Digital Black Storytelling Event
Drag queen Lucy Stoole will emcee this online event, which is aimed at empowering Black people through storytelling, spoken word and song. “Raise Your Voice” is organized by Affinity Community Services, Brave Space Alliance, Chicago House and YEPP. It begins 6 p.m. Thursday and registration is online.
June 19: Juneteenth Panel On Inequalities Faced By Black Gay Men
Keith Green, an assistant professor at Loyola University, will moderate a virtual discussion about the inequities faced by Black gay men, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. The panel of Black leaders will also address the history and intersection of being Black and gay in America.
Chicago House and Social Service Agency is hosting the event, which begins 11 a.m. Friday. Register online.
June 20: “Anti-Racism for White Folks” Webinar
The Lighthouse Foundation, a Black- and LGBTQ-led social-justice group, is offering online training for white people to learn how to be better allies against racism. It will be led by the Rev. Smash, a white ally who’s active within the organization, and will be based on “How to be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X Kendi.
The training begins 11 a.m. Sunday and requires online registration.
June 26: Virtual Open Mic Night For Black Queer Voices
Black LGBTQ people will share songs, poems and stories about being “on the front lines for political, societal and judicial change that will one day hopefully reach us.” The virtual event will make space to honor the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and other Black lives lost to violence.
“Black Queer Voices Virtual Open Mic begins 7:30 p.m. June 26, and a suggested donation of at least $5 is encouraged.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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